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Galaxy S5 LTE-A battery life and performance unaffected by its QHD display, says benchmark

A series of benchmark tests demonstrate that, despite the QHD display, the Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE-A offers up similar battery life and performance to the regular Galaxy S5.
August 6, 2014

Back in June, the launch of the Galaxy S5 LTE-A offered up the latest and greatest hardware that Samsung has to offer, somewhat shoving the regular Galaxy S5 out of the spotlight. The introduction of the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SoC and QHD Super AMOLED display created a few questions regarding differences in image quality, smartphone performance, and, perhaps most importantly, battery life, between the regular and LTE-A version of Samsung’s latest flagship.

Fortunately, AnandTech has put together a variety of benchmarks testing the Galaxy S5 LTE-A’s battery life, CPU and GPU performance, as well as NAND flash and WiFi performance too, to help better discern the difference between the two.

For a quick recap, here are the on-paper differences between the Galaxy S5’s Snapdragon 801 and the LTE-A version’s Snapdragon 805 SoC. The two SoCs features very similar Krait 400 and 450 CPU cores, with the latter only bring minor bug fixes and tweaks, rather than any major performance boosts.

There are however some more noticeable updagrades with the Snapdragon 805, including a new Adreno 420 GPU, compared with the 801’s Adreno 330, which supposedly offers a 40-60 percent performance improvement and additional energy efficiency. The 805 also comes with a category 6 LTE modem built on TSMC’s 20nm SoC process, a more energy efficient Qualcomm QCA6174 WiFi modem, and higher memory bandwidth.

How does the QHD display affect battery life?

Starting with battery life, there are a lot of different possible user cases, so WiFi and LTE web browsing, and gaming scenarios were tested. The two displays were calibrated at 200 nits each, so that brightness wouldn’t affect the results. Below is a quick summary of the findings, comparing just the two Galaxy handsets:

Galaxy S5 vs LTE-A battery performance

In both of the web browsing tests we can see that see that battery life is almost identical between the two. This suggests that the additional battery drain from the higher display resolution of the Galaxy S5 LTE-A is offset by the new 20nm LTE and WiFi modems. Looking at the two performance benchmarks, BaseMark and GFXBench, again we see very similar levels of battery life, although the original Galaxy S5 looks to offer an extra half an hour of useage, on average.

However, it is important to note that the Galaxy S5 LTE-A scored a lower benchmark result in the performance aspects of these tests, suggesting that the higher resolution is putting more stress on the GPU hardware. Even so, the energy efficiencies made with the new Adreno 420 look to be very impressive.

CPU and GPU Performance

Previous benchmarks of the Snapdragon 805 SoC suggested that the updated SoC’s CPU performance is pretty much unchanged over the slightly older Snapdragon 801, whilst the main benefits can be seen with the new Adreno 420 GPU. This latest batch of benchmarks reaffirm the previous results, showing very similar levels of CPU performance between the two Galaxy S5 handsets, and improved GPU performance from the Adreno 420 GPU. Here’s a quick summary of the findings:

Galaxy LTE-A CPU and GPU benchmarks

In terms of performance, the off-screen results show a big lead for the Adreno 420, as you would expect from the newer architecture. However, when you factor in the QHD resolution of the Galaxy S5 LTE-A, the performance gap disappears, due to the demanding nature of higher resolution graphics. In terms of real world performance, there appears to be very little to tell between the two smartphones.

As for the other tests, Samsung put some higher performance NAND memory into the LTE-A handset, and there is a noticeable increase in read and write speeds as a result. However, the new WiFi module doesn’t appear to make any difference to peak potential speeds.

Final Thoughts

Despite the slightly beefed up hardware in the Galaxy S5 LTE-A, there doesn’t appear to be any noticeable performance difference between this version and the original Galaxy S5. Samsung seems to have done a good job at offsetting any performance and battery concerns created by the QHD display by choosing Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805, and as a result manages to retain a consistent level of battery and processing performance across the range of Galaxy S5 devices.

If you would like a closer look at results, or want to see the full range of tests, check out AnandTech’s full article in the link below.